Two new rescue vessels with the names "Irini" and "Athena" joined the fleet of Hellenic Rescue Team, thus enhancing significantly the operational capacity of the organization in terms of search and rescue operations at sea. The two boats, donated to the HRT by the Royal Dutch Rescue Association, KNRM, are based in the new HRT Readiness Base on the island of Chios and will be operating in the wider sea area of the island, always helping the Coast Guard .
The naming and delivering ceremony of the two vessels was held in Chios on Saturday the 14th of May in a festive atmosphere in the presence of important guests, including the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Greece, Mr. Caspar Veldkamp, ??the Chief of Defence, Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis, Captain Panagiotis N.. Tsakos, founder of the Public Benefit Foundation "Maria Tsakos" - International Center for Naval Research and Tradition, the President of the Foundation "Maria Tsakos" Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, Messrs. Udo Helge Fox and Bruce Reid, President and Executive Director, respectively, of the International Federation of Maritime Rescue (IMRF), the deputy of the political party ND, Mr. Notis Mitarachis, the Deputy departmental Head, Mr. Stamatios Karmantzis ,the Mayor of Chios Mr. Manolis Vournikas, representatives of organizations - members of the International Federation of Marine rescue and others. "Godmothers" of vessels was Mrs. Anne Veldkamp, ??wife of the Dutch Ambassador to Greece, who “baptized” the boat "Irini" and Mrs. Chantal E. Mitropoulou, wife of Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, who named the vessel "Athena", following the Dutch tradition of the "godmothers" to reveal the name by cutting with a small ax the rope that holds the cover. The sanctification was blessed by Bishop of Chios, Psara, Oinousses and Kardamyla, Markos.
It is worth mentioning that in the formation of the HRT Chios base ,the contribution of the Public Benefit Foundation "Maria Tsakos"was important from the first time and, especially, of the Director, Mr. Paul Kalogerakis, who in his speech described the event as the beginning of a major effort on the island of Chios while thanked the local community for its contribution to the project.
On his part, the President of Hellenic Rescue Team, Mr. George Kalogeropoulos stressed the importance of cooperation between voluntary rescue organizations and described the creation of the HRT Chios Base as a small miracle that proved that when there is a union of forces for a common goal the boundaries between feasibility and desirability vary, creatively changing the landscape and conditions.
KNRM CEO Mr Jos Stierhout emphasized the voluntary effort of the HRT Chios members, saying that the spirit of volunteerism is the same everywhere in the world and is the driving force of all rescue organizations. At the same time, he stressed the challenge that Hellenic Rescue Team is facing for the continuity of the HRT Chios operational action, underlining that rescue organizations need time to grow, care and, sometimes, even creative conflicts.
Greetings were also addressed by the CEO of the International Federation of Maritime Rescue, Mr Bruce Reid, the wife of the Dutch Ambassador, Mrs Anne Veldkamp, the President of the Public Benefit Foundation "Maria Tsakos" Mr Efthimios Mitropoulos, the Deputy Head Mr Stamatios Karmantzis and Chios Mayor Manolis Vournous.
After the ceremony, members of Chios Hellenic Rescue Team conducted a demonstration of rescue procedures at sea, presenting to invited guests only a part of the intensive training that have followed under the guidance of the KNRM instructors for the last three months.
Giving a strong message of unity and cooperation, the event was also attended by the two rescue boats of the Swedish SSRS organization, attempting to Samos, as well as the German MINDEN vessel participating in search and rescue operations in Lesvos.
INTERAMERICAN, gold sponsor of the HRT, was also present, represented by Mrs Stavroula Epitropaki, director of the company on Chios office, who in her statement referred to the close cooperation of INTERAMERICAN with Hellenic Rescue Team and pledged the support of the local group.
All people of HRT would like to thank all the sponsors and supporters who helped "build" this new base on the island and especially the International Federation of Maritime Rescue (IMRF), the KNRM and its people, and Foundation "Maria Tsakos", the authorities of the island, AEGEAN, HELLENIC SEAWAYS and above all the volunteers of HRT Chios who gave their best and met the requirements of a very intensive and of high level education.
Other relevant articles: